Okay so, I know this “write a scary fact about yourself” essay stuff is complete fluff. I know this is busy work for a college English course, that you’re just assigning something simple and asinine using Halloween coming up in a few days as an excuse to mask your own lack of imagination. But I’m game for the grade, Prof. You know? Ask and ye shall receive. And you shall receive my patented fucked-up grandma story.
Grandma was born with a joint in her stomach. Yeah, like the shoulder or elbow kind. It was a ball-and-socket joint, to which I was questionably told something had been attached at one time. Dad told me once during his drunk millings around the backyard that there in fact had been something connected to it, something like an arm, but not quite. I don’t know. Makes me kind of rub my stomach just thinking about it. I mean, if that shit’s genetic, it could have happened to me. Would have been awesome rocking a stomach sleeve in high school, let me tell you.
She actually died a couple years back, but she was pretty much gone by the time she went. I remember her just constantly crying out through the wall something about her sister who died when she was like ten or something. And I vividly recall the guest room we were keeping her in during the last stages of her life reeking of urine. I had a poster of the ’97 Detroit Red Wings (they won the cup that year) hanging above the headboard of the bed we’d purchased just for her, just because the walls of my room were fully plastered with shit. Well, I’m not quite sure what the hell Grandma was doing, but somehow her piss ended up soaking my poster. Seriously.
I think it was after that happened that I stopped caring about Mom abusing her. Mom had always hated Grandma—guess it was a mother-in-law thing—so I suppose she couldn’t resist having an enemy at her mercy. Thing about it was, it really wasn’t Grandma anymore. It was a senile, dementia-addled caricature of her at even the best of her sane moments. I’m not sure how much payback you can inflict on someone when they have no idea why you’re doing the shit my mom did. Like, when my mom wrote “CRAZYBITCH” in Sharpie across her forehead, and it stayed there for a month because she hardly ever got bathed. I’m not sure if Grandma knew what a mirror was right then, or even who the HCTIBYZARC staring back blankly was supposed to be.
So Mom would go into Grandma’s room, cuss her out, spit in her face, and go make supper. It was about the time that this had become the daily norm that Grandma began getting up to look out the window of her room. A lot of times she’d fall, and the only reason anyone knew was because I happened to hear it happen from my room next door. I’d pick her up, try to get her back in bed while holding my breath, but she would fight me every step of the way. When she’d reach the bed, she’d just turn back as soon as I left for the door. Her old, shaking toothpick arms would brace the window frame, and she would scream weird Latin-sounding gibberish. “Mirdus Rax!” she’d yell and drag out in this mangled croak. “Mirdus Rax, deliver me!” Grandma had always been a church-goer, so I’m not sure what kind of god she was pleading to. I had to go pump (a once again drunk) Dad for that info as he thoroughly inspected the photinias along the driveway. According to him, Grandma had been a long-time closet believer in some obscure demigod. Now that was some left-field shit. (But then, the woman had a freaking socket in her stomach, y’know?)
The god-calling died along with Grandma about a week after it started. That’s when a whole new, messed-up chapter opened. See, Grandma had a will prepared, which no one in the family saw coming. Basically, the old lady had divided her assets (what little there were) up among her four kids. Her old house was willed to my dad. We’re all pretty sure that was collateral for what she asked of him.
In the will, Grandma had specified that she be exhumed exactly one decade after her burial and the socket in her stomach be cut out of her. Furthermore, she asked that this gruesome little souvenir stayed in the possession of my father. Dad, feeling in debt to her for the money he made off the sale of the house—and probably feeling guilty for all the time he had his back turned to what my mom had been doing—went along with it. The house sold for like seventy-five grand. Not bad; I think Mom and Dad paid off their own mortgage. And the socket? It’s (sort of) in a box in a corner of my parents’ garage. My dad doesn’t hang out there much anymore.
So, Prof, that’s the patented fucked-up grandma story, sans the scary part. Here’s where that comes in. My parents have had that ball-and-socket joint for about two years now, in a box that no longer contains it. Why’s that? Because shit is growing off of it. A new appendage would be my best guess. I mean, it has two more joints, and all the joints are about five inches apart (from what I could tell over summer vacation on one quick, sickened glance). The thing doesn’t really look like an arm or a leg. It’s about three feet long now. There’s mucous all over this black bone-like stuff that looks like forming muscle. It’s kind of jellyish. And it stinks like…I don’t know…like three day-old roadkill sitting in ammonia.
And I’ve never seen it do it, but I have heard it in the garage while shooting hoops in the driveway. I hear that socket thing flail, jerk, whatever it does in its little dark corner there. I know it’s still becoming whatever it’s going to become. And I know some shred of guilt in my Mom and Dad is just going to let that happen. Sometimes I imagine them old and indolent, too afraid to ask me for help because of the example they set with Grandma, and I picture that thing in the garage, at night, hiding away years later. I see it fully formed into something not even close to human, but free-standing, free-willed, and hellbent on shambling into my parents’ house and carrying out the will of whatever Mirdus Rax is.
I just don’t think he’s a merciful god.
©2012 Raven McAllister
Raven McAllister is a licensed clinical therapist. He is the author of Unsaved: The Small Hours, Book One and Arsenic Pills: Stories. Facebook.com/RavenMcAllister